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Bench Press Assistance Exercises

I have been lifting on a program that focuses alot on the big three lifts. (squat, bench, deadlift.) It seems that no matter what I do, that my bench press refuses to progress very much, especially in relation to my other lifts. It seems that I have a very large and strange muscular inbalance.

Deadlift: 1x405
Squat: 1x335 ATG
Bench: 1x200

Although my other lifts are not particularly strong, my bench press seems very weak.

My sticking point tends to be within two inches of my chest which to me signifies either a weak chest or weak rotator cuffs. However I feel that I strengthened my rotators greatly through the Neanderthal No More Program and through daily activation exercises. I have also switched up the type of bench pressing that I do (Flat, Incline, Dumbbell.)

Does anyone have suggestions for exercises to strengthen the start of the bench press? All that I can think of are weighted push ups and one and a quarter bench presses to work the lower phases more.

Any help would be appreciated as my bench has been stalled for ages and is really discouraging.

I know your focusing on the big three but you should try adding some overhead work. Theres a reason Wndler includes millitary press for its own workout. Also even Christain Thibaudeau has stated that significant overhaed lifts are a majior tool in increasing you bench.

Is your goal to have a big bench or a big chest? This advice is for working your chest more during bench press and may increase it somewhat but its not for getting the biggest bench you can. Do you feel your pecs at all when benching, if you don’t do flies and get stronger and better at them and do bench off pins an inch or 2 off your chest or pause reps at the chest for a second or 2 to increase strength off the chest and to activate it more. Don’t always try getting a new one rep max for exercises, you need to spend time getting stronger and better at feeling the movement within a reasonable amount of sets, reps and exercises, If your goal is development go read Brick’s topic The Bodybuilding Bible, If your goal is strength stick to a program like 5/3/1.

I’ve been on the quest for a bigger bench and saw that CT had mentioned the he believed shoulder press/overhead lifts help increase bench, as i see MrDan500 said.

So I’ve been barbell pressing for about a month now and i believe it’s helped.

Thanks for the advice.

I will definitely add some flies in and had already planned to add pin presses into my next program.

I do military presses as well and do feel as though they have helped.

My current program is stripped down hypertrophy and I am nearing the conclusion of week 6.

I will definitely be looking for something new afterwords. I am trying to get a more developed chest more so then a better bench. I just feel that since i am not very strong yet, my best bet for gaining size is to just get stronger on compound lifts. Getting a stronger bench is a secondary goal but I see it as a means to an end.

Thanks again

I have just started the 5-3-1 program also, but in the past I have found inclined dumbbell presses to be really helpful. I also had the mentality of the 1RM, but it feels like the 5-3-1 is a good primer for later gains. Or at least that is what everyone on these forums has suggested.

Also, are you measuring your 1RM as “a max weight before your break form” or “the max weight you are able to get up off you or else it would crush you”? Like I said, I just started 5-3-1 with a huge focus on form.

Thanks for the responses guys. I am definitely going to start out on Wendlers program. I have written it out in a way that I feel to be in tune with my goals and am looking for any advice possible. I want to gain both size and strength, primarily through increasing the main lifts each day.

1.Squat
2.Overhead Squat 4x10-20
3.Romanian Deadlift 4x10-20
4.Pistol Squat 4x10-20

Bench Press Day

  1. BB Bench
    2.Pin Press 4x5-10
  2. Flies 4x12
  3. Narrow Bench 4x10-20
  4. DB Row 4x10-20

Deadlift Day

1.Deadlift
2.Chin Ups 4xmax
3.BB Row 4x10-20
4.Back Squat 4x10
5.Face pulls 4x10-20

Military Press Day

1.Military Press
2.Upright Row 4x10
3.Side raises 4x10
4.Incline BB Bench 4x10
5.BB Curl 4x10-20

Am I totally off base?
A body part split of any type is a whole new world for me.

Thanks

My strength on bench hit a wall a few months back and I switch to more volume (3x8 on BB Bench along with DB bench, flies and weighted pushups).

And the advice on overhead/shoulder work sounds about right to me as well as I can definitely feel assitance from the shoulders when BB benching.

Not sure if my 1-rep max has gone up (haven’t attempted), but my 8-rep max has gone up and that’s good enough for the moment.

[quote]tupac wrote:
Thanks for the responses guys. I am definitely going to start out on Wendlers program. I have written it out in a way that I feel to be in tune with my goals and am looking for any advice possible. I want to gain both size and strength, primarily through increasing the main lifts each day.

1.Squat
2.Overhead Squat 4x10-20
3.Romanian Deadlift 4x10-20
4.Pistol Squat 4x10-20

Bench Press Day

  1. BB Bench
    2.Pin Press 4x5-10
  2. Flies 4x12
  3. Narrow Bench 4x10-20
  4. DB Row 4x10-20

Deadlift Day

1.Deadlift
2.Chin Ups 4xmax
3.BB Row 4x10-20
4.Back Squat 4x10
5.Face pulls 4x10-20

Military Press Day

1.Military Press
2.Upright Row 4x10
3.Side raises 4x10
4.Incline BB Bench 4x10
5.BB Curl 4x10-20

Am I totally off base?
A body part split of any type is a whole new world for me.

Thanks[/quote]

Well, the biggest problem i see here is that you are hitting your shoulders in some way everyday and youll probably have some achin’ shoulders in no time. Also pin presses are a lockout exercise and you need more starting strength. Starting strength = DB pressing, Fly’s, Floor Pressing with a 3-5 second pause on bottom, and getting your form perfected on the bench set-up. I also agree with the overhead pressing, but thats already mandatory in Wendler’s program.

The problems are listed above, but my personal opinion is that you should focus on assistance work that compliments the main lift of the day. For example, on deadlift day don’t do squats for reps, do front squats or leg presses, especially if you have weak starting strength on the deadlift, if its top end strength do some rack pulls, DB row and shrugs, finish with some abs and call it a day.

If you want any suggestions on what exercises go with what imbalance or anything just ask, cause im not gonna waste my time writing all this out, if you dont even want to know.

Thanks for the advice everyone.

I really want to give this program a shot and am interested in gaining size through improvement in the big lifts. I feel that my body responds best when I keep it simple and push the big three. This is probably due to the fact that I dont have a great deal of base strength yet to work with.

I would really appreciate if you could help me choose some assistance exercises with strength as the focus.

Bench: I have really weak starting strength and if I can struggle through the first couple inches, I am almost guaranteed to get the rep.

Dead lift: Same issue as bench. If I can pull the weight off the floor, I know that i will get the rep.

Squat: My squat is progressing nicely since my month long stint of front squatting. Overhead squats have really helped my form. However I feel that my sticking point is when I get to parallel on the way up.

Military Press: I don’t think I really have a sticking point, I just have not got very good at it yet. 135x5, 155x1.

Any help with assistance exercises would be great.

The one assistance exercise that I really do not enjoy is the leg press. I find that it really hurts my lower back.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice, practice, practice.

You need to bench (or do a variation there of)at least twice a week if you want to improve your bench.

How is your form? Are you keeping your ass on the bench and your shoulder blades retracted? Feet flat on the floor?

Hell, I do a bench press variation at least twice a week; and then move on to my assistance exercises.

And I train alone, no spot unless I’m going for a new PR.

[quote]tupac wrote:
Thanks for the advice everyone.

I really want to give this program a shot and am interested in gaining size through improvement in the big lifts. I feel that my body responds best when I keep it simple and push the big three. This is probably due to the fact that I dont have a great deal of base strength yet to work with.

I would really appreciate if you could help me choose some assistance exercises with strength as the focus.

Bench: I have really weak starting strength and if I can struggle through the first couple inches, I am almost guaranteed to get the rep.

Dead lift: Same issue as bench. If I can pull the weight off the floor, I know that i will get the rep.

Squat: My squat is progressing nicely since my month long stint of front squatting. Overhead squats have really helped my form. However I feel that my sticking point is when I get to parallel on the way up.

Military Press: I don’t think I really have a sticking point, I just have not got very good at it yet. 135x5, 155x1.

Any help with assistance exercises would be great.

The one assistance exercise that I really do not enjoy is the leg press. I find that it really hurts my lower back. [/quote]

Assistance

Bench: read my above post

Deadlift: Could be form if you have trouble getting the bar moving. Assistance work for star-up Front Squats, Hack Squat, Good Mornings, and maybe revers hyper. Think about exercises that mostly use Quads and Erectors. Also, try looking up videos on advice about deadlift technique. I prefer to get it from powerlifters, check EliteFTS exercise index.

Squat: Your sticking point in your squat is somewhat of the same cause of the sticking point in you deadlift. You need to focus on Leg Curls/Glute-Ham Raises, Good Mornings or reverse hypers and perfect your form.

Try having somebody take a video of you while your doing your main lifts.

Thanks for all the help with the assistance exercises.

This is what I am planning to start.

Squat Day

Squat
Squat 5x10
Good morning 4x10-20

Bench Day

Bench press
Bench Press 5x10
Flies 5x10
Floor press 5x10
Kroc row 5x10

Military Press Day

Military press
Military Press 5x10
BB Row 5x10
Face pulls 5x10

Deadlift
Deadlift 5x10
Front Squat 5x10
Reverse hypers 5x10

[quote]tupac wrote:
Thanks for all the help with the assistance exercises.

This is what I am planning to start.

Squat Day

Squat
Squat 5x10
Good morning 4x10-20

Bench Day

Bench press
Bench Press 5x10
Flies 5x10
Floor press 5x10
Kroc row 5x10

Military Press Day

Military press
Military Press 5x10
BB Row 5x10
Face pulls 5x10

Deadlift
Deadlift 5x10
Front Squat 5x10
Reverse hypers 5x10

[/quote]

Not in that exact order though right? You dont want to have a military press day right after a bench day.

I will definitely not do my bench day and military press day on consecutive days, I am just going to follow Wendler’s schedule.

Thanks for the help everyone, im excited to get started.